What does a first selectman do upon deciding not to run for reelection after 12 years in office? If he’s Greenwich First Selectman Peter Tesei, he uses his final State of the Town address to run through his greatest hits.
Noting that there were less than four weeks before voters will choose his successor – either Board of Estimate and Taxation Chair Jill Oberlander, a Democrat, or State Rep. and fellow Republican Fred Camillo — Tesei told the Greenwich Chamber of Commerce that what changes have taken place during his six terms in office were “for the most part, I believe,” positive.
Speaking before the Greenwich Chamber of Commerce at the Hyatt Regency on Oct. 11, Tesei said that the town had lived up to, and even surpassed, many expectations in the wake of the Great Recession of 2007-09. That was when it became obvious that “we could no longer rely on the federal or the state government” to the same extent to keep what he described as “our vibrant economic engine” going.
Tesei’s creation of the First Selectman’s Economic Advisory Committee has helped to grow Greenwich’s business environment, he said, while marketing efforts like Think Greenwich and a number of initiatives by the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) have helped answer “why Greenwich makes sense” for prospective residents and businesses alike.
The outgoing first selectman also touted the second annual Greenwich Economic Forum, scheduled for Nov. 5-6 at the Delamar Greenwich Harbor Hotel, as proof of the town’s status as “the hedge fund capital of the country.”
Speaking of Greenwich Harbor, Tesei also took a victory lap for the creation of a harbor management plan and the dredging of the Mianus River, among other efforts that he said are intended to “upgrade and improve our 30 miles of coastline.”
Going unmentioned was a proposal by Weeks Marine of Cranford, New Jersey for a commercial barge mooring in Stamford waters located near Greenwich. In the face of fierce opposition from residents of both municipalities, the Greenwich Shellfish Commission, Tesei – who had threatened legal action – and Oberlander and Camillo, Weeks withdrew the proposal last week.
Greenwich’s inclusion in the Fairfield Five — the regional marketing initiative also consisting of Fairfield, Norwalk, Stamford and Westport – and a recent report by the Fairfield County Community Foundation that found government responsiveness rated at 77% in Greenwich, as compared with a 55% average for the county, also underscore the town’s importance in the county’s landscape, he said.
Tesei also acknowledged “a few disappointments” during his six terms, but chose not to go into detail.
Among the things he’ll miss as first selectman, Tesei said, were having a portable police and fire radio; he touted overseeing the swearing in of dozens of recruits in both departments during his tenure.
What he had most enjoyed, he said, was “dealing with people.”
Declaring Greenwich to be financially stable, vibrant and diverse, Tesei said his chief advice to his successor, who will be chosen on Nov. 5, would be: “Most of all, be patient, be inclusive and be thankful.”
“Thank you for the opportunity, and God bless you,” he concluded.